The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department is working on putting a system in place to check the loot of public money in the guise of carrying out development works.

Addressing presspersons here on Friday, RDPR Minister H.K. Patil said an automated system would be set up in which the computer would not generate the work bill if it did not meet the guidelines fixed for carrying out the work.

Mr. Patil said software was being developed for this purpose. The system would include checks such as GPS-based photography to identify the exact location of work, he added. The Minister said that 200 people had been trained in the new system and feedback was being taken to improve the system. “In addition we have the social audit and the ombudsman systems. We will soon take measures to strengthen both systems,” he said.

Replying to allegations that gram sabha meetings were taking place only on paper, and decisions were being taken on the whims of a few officials, Mr. Patil said that stringent directions were issued to authorities and subsequently they had become serious about regularly organising and attending gram sabha meetings, he said. Mr. Patil said that the State government had decided to upgrade the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) directorate into a commissionerate, giving it greater power to implement projects and to take action against irregularities.

Mr. Patil admitted there had been errors in the implementation of the Act and added that according to a report from the department, the highest number of works was undertaken in February and March, the last months of the financial year.

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